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Influential – Where Art Meets Advertising

Influential – Where Art Meets Advertising


My work was always been fueled
by the love of travel and adventure. And I try always to motivate
people to to kick ass at their own life
and to do it themselves. I think I try to create a sense
of place and a sense of mood in my images. If I can convey the way I felt
when I shot the photo through my image,
I think I’ve been successful. I like the expansive nature of
spaces

whether we’re talking about
manmade architecture or backdrops like the ones that
we’re in today. So we’re in Alaska shooting
a Land Rover project. It’s a place where the oceans
meet the mountains. Places like this are important
to me. So it’s been 4,000 miles one way
on the Alaska Canada highway. We’ve been kayaking and mountain
biking, the car’s been fueling
our adventures. Advertising is one of those
things that if you do it well, you can be respected for it.
And of you do it poorly, people don’t appreciate it. If you want to go by the very
strict definition, then perhaps doing any kind of paid work as
an artist is selling out in some way, any kind
of a partnership with a brand. Just getting ready to head up
to Hatcher’s Pass for the day. We’re gonna take some pictures
and also shoot some film for the Land Rover project. Stay & Wander was born from
originally a meeting between

Alex Strohl and myself. “It’s also nice to have
a telephoto lens.” My father was actually a very
dedicated hobby photographer. So he had a lot of gear that was
all very shiny and interesting to me. “We have a Canon 5Ds
with a 24-70.” “10-18 lens here is pretty wide.” I started making photos when I
was 15 years old when we moved to France so I borrowed a camera
from my parents and just started taking photos. Then it became like a mission. We both knew a lot of other
photographers that were creating amazing content and also
starting to be contacted by brands that were interested
in this new way of sharing photography and sharing content
over social media channels. A lot of creators are good at
creating stuff and few of them are good at getting paid
to do it. That’s what we wanted to change,
we wanted to have all these people who are so good at
creating art also be able to make a living out of it. Our business was growing quite
rapidly and the demands were growing at the same time.
So we needed somebody and I think over and over again
we came back to somebody like Rishad as the right choice. I’m a self taught photographer.
I was just learning online and it just continued to snow
ball for me. I feel like we always had a chemistry between
us. The fit felt right so the three of us came
together that way. I was really firmly entrenched
in a career working in a venture capital firm but I think that
the one thing that was missing was creativity. That’s a big
reason why I’m so passionate about Stay & Wander now
because it’s squarely at the intersection of visual content
as well as business. If your reason for doing this
is to be famous, then I think you’re in it for the wrong
reasons. And it’s not authentic
and people will see that. So my plan was never to be an
influencer. I always wanted to sort of run campaigns and
connect clients to people. So it’s never been the goal and it’s funny it ended up
like this. Brands come to us and they look
for those authentic creators. They want to have someone who
has that influence in their field because they’re living
that lifestyle. Do they happen to be
influential? Absolutely. “You know this has a real
nostalgic, retro vibe to it.” “I like that.” “I like this a lot.
Great atmosphere.” The word influencer has really
become commoditized. I mean really when brands or agencies
come to us and they’re talking about influencers, they’re
really referring to numbers. And I’m finding more and more
that we have to sit down and say “Look. Numbers is something
that we have to care about.” It’s a necessary evil if you
will. It’s also about the relationships that these
creators have formed with the people that are
following them. Where they’re not just followers in a sense,
they’re also their cheerleaders. Advertisers used to have that
audience, and now they’re finding that individuals are
starting to create their own audience for themselves so
they’re trying to start their brand or their product in a
place that feels a little bit more genuine. And there’s really two ways that
it can go. The brand or client can sort of interrupt the
conversation and really cause a bit of a disturbance in the
relationship that’s already established, or they can find a
way to weave themselves into that conversation. “Seems like this has become
more of my office than my real office.” It’s definitely controversial to
create advertising and pretend that it’s not. The followers and the audiences
that we have on social media today are very savvy and I
think that it’s a mistake to to underestimate
their knowledge. If you post sponsored content on
your feed I think you want your audience to know and I think
it’s part of our duty to let the audience know. Selling out is a real thing and
the audience is going to let you know. It’s gonna manifest itself
in a bunch of ways whether it’s straight out verbal reaction or
loss of followership, what have you. And I think it’s
really important for some people to understand it’s not always
about just chasing that paycheque. If you’re a full time artist
you’re going to be presented with opportunities that make you
uncomfortable. There’s gonna be dollars in front of you for
things that you may not want to do and it just comes down to the
integrity of the individual. I don’t think that having
sponsored work for commercial content is too big of a
compromise as long as you’re still being true to yourself in
terms of the work that you create. “Yeah that’s what we’re saying,
finally there’s some good light happening.” A lot of people think that
social media followers sort of hate advertising.
I don’t think they hate advertising at all. I think what
they hate is bad advertising that insults them. “And then I’ve just been editing
it a little bit. Trying to find the right look, style
that I like, treatment I like.” Artists that I respect the most
do what they love and they have a passion for their craft and
being influential is like almost a byproduct or it’s incidental. “In the last 24 hours we’ve had
25,000 views. Almost 200 people have shared it
so engagement was fantastic. I think ads should be art,
especially the type of ads that we’re working on and if they’re
not, then we’re not doing our job properly. “Next we’re going to Iceland,
possibly New Zealand and then Newfoundland.” As we’ve grown we’ve picked up
more and more clients in the lifestyle space, retail,
automotive, fashion. But I think the essence of Stay
and Wander is still travel and passion for exploration. Influencer is a bit of a dirty
word these days for some creators. But for me that’s really not the
case. If I can inspire someone to go outside or travel or see
something or experience something that they wouldn’t
otherwise have done so, I mean I think that’s a great thing. Right now what I do doesn’t
really feel like work even though it is my job, even
though it is my income. It kind of goes hand in hand
with my lifestyle, my desire to travel a lot, and the images
I like to create now. I think that this influencer
phenomenon is just getting bigger and bigger and that
there’s gonna be even more opportunities coming up. As social media evolves and
grows, eventually it’s just going to become media again. I don’t have a crystal ball in
terms of what’s next but I do feel that contouring creators
are here to stay. Whatever budgets are spent now
on this influencer and photography space will be just
quadrupled in just like a couple years. I want higher quality work
across the board. I want artists to be compensated fairly for
what they’re doing, but I also want brands to get fair value
from the artists that they’re working with. People always ask me, “Well what
if Instagram dies or what if Facebook, YouTube, whatever goes
away tomorrow?” And I honestly feel like that’s okay. People
are gonna go somewhere and content is gonna be
digested. I don’t think photographs or
video or written word is going to be going anywhere any time
soon so if it goes somewhere else, we’ll be there.

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